Happy June 1st everyone!
I have been youtube-crawling today around the cinema pop-culture side. And as I was watching assorted comments and commentary on a whole lot of YA (i.e. Young Adult) and children's books and TV/film/animation series, from Harry Potter to The Last Airbender to the Power Rangers I thought about the one common thing they share: the nerfed adults.
Nerfed when the story wants the kid to shine, that is.
Granted, some series or books or premises where the heroes that save the day are pre-teens have a somewhat believable (or quite believable) premise why the whole world relies on teenagers and not, say, their adult mentors or teachers to do what needs to be done, but most of them don't really.
It's not enough excuse that a child is “the Chosen One” to have that kid be at the front line of a confrontation that doesn't take place in the school area or something.
This is NOT what I was referring to.
In fact, putting the Chosen One in the front line while still a child is the worst thing you can do to make a prophecy fulfill itself (unless the Chosen One has plot armor). While still a child, even with remarkable abilities or powers, the Chosen One will still be inexperienced, and that means inefficient or even dangerous.
On top of that, having criminally negligent adults as examples to grow up around, it's hard to believe the Chosen One will have grown to have the discipline, ethics and commitment that it takes to, well, save the world no matter how much he/she might have good intentions.
For me it's especially aggravating (to the point it might throw me out of the story) if the Chosen One has mentors and teachers that actively tell him/her that HE/SHE should be the one to do the work right now, while they coach, watch and cheer! Obviously if they mean the Chosen One should do the work when he/she is adult, that's a different (and very acceptable) story.
The biggest question I got, really, is… if you want the adults to be so hands off, the kids to be so independent in their interactions with the world, the world taking them mostly seriously… why don't you just age them a little?
Don't have them be 9 or 12 or even 15 years old. Have them be 19, 20, 25 if you want to have young heroes. They're still basically fledglings considering not too long ago, the age of majority was 21 in many countries. But they're not children.
Now, considering I write Without Moonlight where 4 frigging members of my cast that are pretty central, and at the line of fire, are under 15 years old it might sound a little rich for me to gripe about that sort of thing, but hear me out:
In Without Moonlight
1. none of the kids are “the Chosen One”. If any of them dies, the stakes of the war/resistance/struggle won't be terribly thrown off, if at all.
2. none of the kids are asked by any adult to “save the world” (or the microfilm), it's circumstance and desperation that forces adults to include them in a grander scheme by accident.
3. the adults are the ones positioned to lead, to take the risks and willing to fight the battles, and that doesn't change even when in practice things don't go that way.
4. the kids open the story doing precarious things, but they're doing them because they're desperate and homeless, and they don't think about any further instance beyond the survival of the moment, until the plot kicks in and forces them by circumstance to get tangled up in a grander scheme that they're still not actually central in.
So in Without Moonlight, it's desperation that pushes the kids to be in any kind of precarious role, and arguably, at least initially none of them actually have an adult role despite the danger of their daily life, and it could also be argued that they're being used by the adults in certain situations, but the one that calls the shots is the adult and not the kid.
It's only as they grow up, mentally or physically or both, that they gain respect among adults.
(Yes, I obviously think I'm going about it in one of the right ways to do it)
What I'm trying to say is not that using kid characters in heroic positions is bad in and of itself, far from it! Kid heroes can be awesome.
What I'm saying is that it should be done in context with and interaction with the adult world in which they are living and breathing. The adults should act as adults in relation to the kids, whatever that means- from protective to abusive to indifferent, but still in the manner adults tend to act and interact with children and teenagers.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, June 1, 2019
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